July 26, 1994
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS' WORK SESSION
Commissioners' Conference Room - 1:30 p.m.
Chair Jerry Rust presided with Steve Cornacchia, Ellie Dumdi and Jack Roberts present. Marie Frazier excused. Sharon Giles, Recording Secretary.
13. PUBLIC SAFETY
a. DISCUSSION Lane County Sheriff's Helicopter Program.
Eric Langford, Captain, Sheriff's Office, responded to questions asked in the morning session by Cornacchia.
Q: Would the parts for the Hiller be sold before or after the overhaul of the helicopters?
A: Langford indicated that it would be a process that would occur along the same track following the County rules governing the sale of surplus property; i.e. by competitive bid, which would require about 90 days to complete.
Q: If a part fails and a surplus military part is needed, how long does it take to get those parts?
A: Langford reported that the active military is no longer using OH6's and they are being phased out of the reserve components, so a lot of the parts are being distributed to local and state agencies through the various RLSO's. He stated that the Sheriff's Office is actively acquiring as many of those surplus components as they can.
Q: Do both aircraft have to be completely disassembled in order to determine the condition of the parts?
A: Langford said the answer is no, as there are extensive military records that go with both aircraft and the records are being surveyed by aircraft professionals to look at compliance with air-worthiness directives. He indicated that it is difficult to predict any need at this time to do any part swapping between the aircraft.
Roberts arrived late to the meeting at 1:39 p.m.
Q: Will passengers for hire be taken?
A: Langford replied that there are no plans to do that.
Q: What is the future of federal funds for drug eradication?
A: Langford acknowledged that is unknown, but there has been a stable history. Sheriff McManus observed that as the forest downsize, their law enforcement components are at risk of being reduced, thus they will be looking at other resources to fill that void.
Q: Distribution of revenue or expenses in various contracts between helicopter services and personnel services?
A: Langford noted that this varies a lot from year to year and there is no distribution formula. He added that there is agency discretion in whether the dollars are slanted towards personnel services or aircraft services to reach a balance each year.
Q: Is more time allotted towards marijuana eradication as opposed to more dangerous drugs?
A: Langford said the answer is no, as in most cases of heavy drug searches (methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, etc.), indoor or outdoor marijuana grows have been associated with the distribution of the other drugs, which allows these cases to be billable on the contract. McManus added that part of the contracts relate to recreational safety in the public lands in the county, including keeping the land safe from growers who pose danger to innocent recreationalists.
Q: What is the availability of funds for the aircraft out of the drug enforcement program and, if those funds are used, what would be the impact on other potential uses for those dollars?
A: Langford reported that the budget program projects $50,000 in revenue from the drug forfeiture program and there is $38,000 already in the fund. These funds have to be specifically used towards drug enforcement. He indicated that he did not feel anything would be lost.
Roberts observed that Charles Kimball, from Heli-Jet Corporation (who had previously written a letter to the Board [see material on file]), was present and asked that he be given an opportunity to provide any information he may feel the Board should have. McManus noted that his office had not come prepared to deal with questions from the industry and did not have their technical experts present, so could only generally answer questions from the document.
Kimball introduced Wayne Hazard from Heli-Jet Corporation. Kimball indicated that they have concerns about the past program operated with the Hiller and the anticipated program with the OH6's. Kimball asserted that military surplus parts cannot be used on a standard helicopter if the Sheriff's Office intends to obtain a Standard Air Worthiness Certificate. He stressed that the cost of civilian parts is infinitely higher. Kimball added that, as opposed to the $50,000 budget by the Sheriff's Office for an engine, they had received a quote for a rebuilt engine at $118,000 and a new engine at $180,000.
Kimball stated that Hughes/McDonald Douglas (who manufactures the OH6) indicates that all listed deviations must be removed by FAA-approved installations. He remarked that an employee of McDonald Douglas had stated that they had looked at purchasing numerous OH6's and converting them themselves, but chose not to as all of the parts to support the aircraft were out of production. Kimball reported that this same employee had estimated that it would cost approximately $200,000 to convert each OH6 to standard category. Kimball asked whether the County had received permission from the Department of Defense to sell parts from the Hiller, as it is expressly forbidden to sell those parts without permission. With regard to ongoing maintenance costs, Kimball noted that premature failure of components is common and stated that this has not been discussed in the proposal. Responding to Van Vactor, Kimball cited his authority for the non-use of surplus military parts was through FAA regulations and indicated he would provide the specific citation later.
Langford observed that Heli-Jet's theme is that the Sheriff's Office is operating illegally. He stressed that the FAA has reviewed the Sheriff's Office operation and has informed them, orally and in writing, that they are in full compliance with the law. McManus added that this has been verified by both the County Administrator and County Counsel. Roberts observed that the broader philosophical issue that the industry seems concerned about is that those contracts can be in competition with private industry. He remarked, however, that while those issues are of concern, Lane County has enough invested, in a variety of ways, in the acquisition of these helicopters, that the issues need to be worked out. Roberts concluded that the real question is assuring the public that there will be no cutbacks in basic law enforcement in order to operate the helicopter. McManus agreed and emphasized that he will not close floors of the jail or take deputies off the street in order to support the helicopter program. He observed that the helicopter is a very effective tool in an area the size of Lane County.
Rust indicated that he would like to see Kimball's questions answered by the Sheriff's Office in writing, as once an issue is presented it deserves closure. McManus remarked that he has no problem answering the questions brought forward today, which were not addressed in previous Heli-Jet letters. Rust asked Kimball to provide a list of written questions to which McManus would provide a written response. Cornacchia indicated that specifics he would like to see addressed are documentation on the cost of the C20, information on the legality of selling of the Hiller parts, and information on the ability to use military parts for an Air Worthiness Certificate. He observed that the majority of his questions had been answered by Garnick's file note. There was some discussion on the official acceptance of the helicopters, with McManus noting that the helicopters have already been accepted. The Sheriff was asked to make his responses to questions available to individual Board members. Rust observed that while marijuana interdiction may not be the highest issue for drug enforcement, he has concerns about the booby traps, trip wires, etc. that affect recreation on public lands. He also noted that 40% of the helicopter's use is for search and rescue, emergencies, photography of crime scenes, etc. He commented that Douglas County spends $500 per hour to lease a plane.
b. ORDER 94-7-26-17/In the Matter of Authorizing an Intergovernmental Law Enforcement/Marijuana Eradication Agreement with the Oregon Department of Justice.
MOTION: Approval of the Order. Dumdi MOVED, Roberts SECONDED. Responding to Cornacchia, Langford stated that he sees no liability in the fact there is currently not an operating helicopter.
14. EMERGENCY BUSINESS
There being no further business, this meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.
Sharon Giles, Recording Secretary
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